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Federal Way school district bids farewell to superintendent
Rob Neu, Federal Way Public Schools departing superintendent, was given a round of recognition by the board of directors during the board’s May 20 meeting.
Neu begins his new superintendent position with the Oklahoma City Public School District in July, but will begin the transition in June.
All board members spoke to Neu’s leadership in the district for the last four years, and the impact he has had, and will continue to have, on the district.
“As you can see by the length of that, some pretty amazing things have happened here in the last four years,” said board President Carol Gregory, who was referencing a PowerPoint presentation of Neu’s accomplishments with the district. “We are a community that demands a lot, and often, we don’t like to be challenged, and we brought in a leader who challenged us.”
Gregory continued, saying Neu has pushed both the board and district leaders in having to “think about what we really want for our kids and from our kids, as they prepare for the world they’re going to live in.”
Board member Claire Wilson said she felt Neu’s impact on the district will be an increased focus on family engagement, early learning and full day kindergarten.
“All of those things are really the ultimate change agents in our community, and the way we’re going to make a difference on the outcomes for kids and families,” she said. “I want to thank you for a professional and personal relationship the last few years. You don’t lead by pointing and telling people they have some place to go, you lead by going to that place and making a case.”
Board member Danny Peterson said Neu’s greatest contribution has been to build up the district and all of its components, instead of tearing it down.
“Sometimes in Federal Way, it’s one of those communities where a lot of the time people find it easier to sit back and throw rocks in what they see and don’t like,” he said. “Then there’s people in our community that take rocks, pick them up, and bring them somewhere and build something with it … I look at Superintendent Neu as someone who came to our community and who didn’t throw rocks. He saw issues, problems, and the things the board was asking him to do. Those were huge, huge tasks, and he said, ‘OK, I’m going to build.’”
“There’s going to be a lasting legacy because of what Superintendent Neu has invested in our school district. His fingerprints are on so many things. Maybe not today, but in years to come, we’re going to see the fingerprints of his courage, his hard work, his wisdom, his strength and of his vision and his insight,” Peterson added.
Neu shared his thoughts on his time in Federal Way, saying that it was always a collaborative effort between himself, the board, district leadership and district families.
“We went through some challenging moments, we never lost our sense of humor, we never lost our sense of purpose,” he said. “To the board, again, the opportunity to serve here in Federal Way has been an outstanding opportunity, an excellent opportunity. Although we went through some challenges in some difficult times, I’m intensely proud of the work, and I’m proud of the position that this district is in … I just want to thank the four of you, and the five who preceded you, for the opportunity to serve here in Federal Way.”
Some of the highlights the board/district chose to share regarding Neu’s tenure included:
• Passing the capital levy to rebuild Federal Way High School
• Restoring much of the damage caused by funding shortfalls from 2010-12 and refunded $1 million to parents through the elimination of student fees
• Having the district be a part of the Road Map Region district consortium, and the $40 million federal grant funds that became available from it due to the Race to the Top initiative
• Increased scores in the High School Proficiency Exams
• Increased graduation rates for all groups in the district
• The Academic Acceleration program, which increased participation and passing rates for students in advanced classes.